“Never let ‘em see you sweat.”
Pitching takes concentration and focus, to give yourself a chance to execute the pitch you need at any given moment in a ballgame. And if you can do that without being stressed when you’re in a bind or too excited when you’re setting down one batter after another, that’s even better.
According to Bryant Lady Hornets softball coach Debbie Clark, that’s what sets Abby Staton apart.
“She’s got an incredible game face,” Clark said. “Her work ethic is beyond the dictionary definition. She has waited her time. She has worked so hard. True dedication, true family, true faith — just one of those that, when we lose her, there’s going to be that empty spot. It’s going to be hard.”
Abby, the daughter of Jon and Michelle Staton, still has her senior season upcoming but on Friday, she made it official at a signing ceremony at Bryant High School. She’ll continue her softball and academic career at Central Baptist College in Conway.
All-conference in softball as well as volleyball her junior year, Staton won the Lady Hornets’ pitching award after last season when the team returned to the Class 7A State Tournament. She was chosen to play in the Junior Classic.
Academically, Staton is a member of National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. She has earned the Academic Achievement Award and the Chemistry Award.
“We’re excited to have her,” said CBC coach Crystal Robinson. “She’s going to be a great addition to the program in every possible way. She’s a well-rounded athlete, student and person. That’s what we want. We want the full athlete, the full person and she’s one that’s going to contribute great to that, athletically, academically, spiritually. I think she’ll come in and be a leader and help us a lot on the field as well.”
Robinson indicated Staton would be used as a pitcher and a middle infielder.
“When I talk to the girls about if they want to play after high school, one thing I ask them is to consider what would you do if softball was taken away from you at the school,” related Clark. “’What if you got injured and you couldn’t play? What would you do? Would you stay there? Is it where you would want to be to go to school?’
“Most of them will think for a second and say, ‘That’s something I need to think about,’” she continued. So I asked (Abby), ‘Why did you choose CBC?’ She said that it has a Christian environment, a down-to-earth atmosphere and small classrooms. She said she thought the softball program was something she was really going to enjoy. She said, ‘It would give me a good group of people to be around. The faculty and the students are very personable and I think I’ll have a great college experience at CBC.’
“I truly believe that too,” Clark asserted. “I’m really proud of Abby. Her freshman year, she was behind a group of girls who won three State championships in a row so she was able to learn from those girls but also was a part of a lot of stiff competition in practice.”
“She’s going to do what she has to do to get a job done and she’s not going to shy away from that,” Robinson added.
“I first wanted to look at all the choices academically in case, like Coach Clark said, I wasn’t going to get to play softball anymore,” Staton said. “So I figured out that, academically, that would be a good school for me. Small classroom size was something I was really looking for and it had all the classes I wanted.
“I had a meeting with Coach Crystal and I just fell in love with it,” she continued. “She told me all about the program. I just knew that it was something that I wanted to be a part of.”
Academically, Staton indicated she’ll study Health Sciences.
“I always knew I wanted to go into the medical field,” she related. “I wanted where I could work closely with athletes and I thought Physical Therapy would be something where I could do that.”
Staton started playing softball when she was 6 years old.
“I got serious, I guess, around high school tryouts,” she said. “I figured out this was something I really wanted to do, to push through and maybe even go to college with it. So, I guess around eighth grade is when I really started getting serious. I got on summer teams that had a lot of competition with it.”
As her career advanced, she started thinking she might be able to play in college.
“Once I could play varsity games and that I was in the level of competition in summer ball that was high where my peers around me were signing and getting committed and going on all these college visits,” she explained. “I figured if they could do it then I could do it too.”
But first, there’s the matter of the 2015 BHS softball season.
“I’m so excited,” Staton said of the team. “I think it’ll be a good year for us. We have a lot of freshmen but there’s a lot of talent in their class. I think we’re going to be a really good team working together and I’m really excited about that part of it.”